Learn new skills to negotiate ‘toughest jobs market for a generation’

People in the UK are facing the toughest jobs market in a generation as the COVID-19 pandemic forces companies to cut jobs and slow hiring in most areas, LinkedIn has said.

New data from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, found that job applications are already three times higher compared to this time last year.

People working in the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19 are looking to other industries to find work. LinkedIn revealed that the share of job applications in Recreation & Travel, Media & Communications and Real Estate from people working in these sectors are down 53%, 43% and 35% respectively compared to last year.

With fewer employment opportunities available, learning new skills will be crucial, the company said.

The findings come as Microsoft and LinkedIn are giving 25 million people the opportunity to reskill for digital roles by offering free access to learning resources and interview tools. This is aimed at making it easier for those hardest hit by job losses to access digital skills, including those on lower incomes, women and underrepresented minorities.

More than 500 LinkedIn Learning courses are now available until March 2021 and they include over 950 hours of learning content. Microsoft Learn is offering free access to more than 225 learning paths and over 1,000 modules of technical skilling. Furthermore, GitHub Learning Lab is continuing to provide free access to hundreds of demonstration-based modules to teach technology, coding, Git and GitHub. All resources can be accessed at opportunity.linkedin.com and are available in English, French, German and Spanish.

Despite the Government easing lockdown measures, COVID-19 will continue to create demand for digital skills. Workers could spend a considerable amount of time in a “hybrid economy”, where work will be split between the office and home.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “Re-skilling and re-training are key parts of our Covid recovery programme and digital skills will form a crucial part of that. That is why I welcome this project announced today by Microsoft. It’s a fantastic initiative and demonstrates how we can all play a part in contributing to our recovery and driving growth for the future.”

The Chancellor’s words were echoed by Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills. “Now, more than ever, it is vital people have the opportunity to learn and develop the digital skills they need to enjoy successful careers, and I welcome this excellent offer from Microsoft,” she said. “I want to thank Microsoft for their continued commitment to improving the country’s digital skills, at a time when online learning have never been more important. Their new package of support, along with The Skills Toolkit, offer an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to build their confidence and get ahead in work, while also helping to equip employers with the skilled workforce they need.”

LinkedIn analysed data from its 690+ million members to identify the digital roles with the highest number of openings, pay a good wage and offer long-term stability. These jobs are within reach of virtually any professional – with or without a degree – LinkedIn said. The 10 roles and the LinkedIn Learning courses to learn the relevant skills are:

LinkedIn is also making the following soft skill learning courses available for free:

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Online learning has long been an important way of helping individuals reskill. Now more than ever, it offers people the chance to improve their long-term career prospects. These courses can equip job-seekers and employees with the digital and data skills needed to drive a UK-wide economic recovery and keep businesses at the forefront of technology.

“Alongside the focus on digital and data, firms will be glad to see modules which help build soft skills like resilience, emotional intelligence and communication. Knowledge, capabilities, and character are equally valued by firms as all are essential for the world of work.”

Sir Peter Estlin, Chair of FutureDotNow, added: “I am pleased with Microsoft’s commitment to upskilling the UK workforce. We know that 17.2 million people in the UK currently don’t have the basic digital skills to support them both at home and at work, and the current crisis has highlighted the need to bridge this gap in digital upskilling. At FutureDotNow, through our coalition of members, we aim to help create a workforce that is fully able to benefit from our digital future. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction and I urge everyone to please take advantage of the fantastic array of skills and support on offer from Microsoft and LinkedIn.”